What’s under your carpet may be just as important as the carpet itself. Using polyurethane foam carpet cushion can extend the life of your building’s carpet and provide other benefits.
"For broadloom carpet, polyurethane provides better long-term performance than latex-backed carpet in low to moderate traffic environments," says Ross Leonard, director of marketing at Tandus. "It’s more resistant to delamination because the polyurethane better withstands repeated exposure to moisture."
Polyurethane carpet cushion acts like a shock absorber, supporting the carpet and absorbing force from common foot traffic. The Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam (AFPF) likens bonded carpet cushion to a life-preserver for carpet; it protects the carpet’s face fibers and allows the carpet to maintain its appearance over a longer time period.
Studies on Carpet Cushion
A study conducted by Independent Textile Testing Service in Dalton, GA, showed that commercial bonded polyurethane carpet cushion improved the appearance retention of carpet after heavy foot traffic by as much as 50 percent compared to the same carpet installed without cushion. The study used a Hexapod Drum to test cushioned and non-cushioned (direct glue) installations; it found that the cushioned carpet maintained a better appearance even after it received 150 percent more traffic than direct-glue carpet.
The use of caster chairs, which are found frequently in offices, presents an even more severe condition for carpet than foot traffic. Under the weight of the person in the chair, the casters subject carpet to potentially abusive forces.
Independent Textile Testing Service also performed a Phillips Chair test (which simulates the weight and movement of an occupied chair with casters) on commercial bonded polyurethane carpet cushion. In multiple tests, no problems were found with the carpet, the cushion, or the installation. Success like this only underscores the high performance of commercial bonded polyurethane carpet cushion.
In a study conducted by Intertek Product Testing, carpet installed with the double-glue method vs. with commercially bonded polyurethane carpet cushion absorbed more than twice as much sound as just the carpet alone. In addition, sound transmission was also considerably improved by using carpet with cushion instead of just carpet. Cushion clearly plays a valuable part in noise management and a quieter, more productive workplace.
Benefits Larger than Life-Cycle
"In environments with light to moderate foot traffic, such as law firms or other professional service offices, polyurethane cushion can extend the life of the carpet," says Leonard. "Generally, with proper maintenance, these products have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years, depending on the type of nylon, construction, and maintenance."
In addition to extending the carpet’s life-cycle, polyurethane cushion also provides other benefits for building tenants/occupants. "Generally, carpet backed with polyurethane cushion provides an ergonomically sound surface that’s comfortable and has anti-fatigue effects," says Leonard. It also has good acoustical properties and reduces sound transmission and noise reverberation.
"Like most flooring options, polyurethane cushioned floorcoverings can provide building owners and occupants with many benefits," says Leonard. "However, it’s important to understand the needs of the space and make recommendations based on that. There is nothing that will be appropriate for all spaces."
Kylie Wroblaski (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate editor at Buildings magazine.